The degree of red color development on the surface of prawns by cooking is an important index for food quality. In this study, we tested several factors that are thought to influence the red color development to identify possible correlations with various conditions. Live kuruma prawns, Marsupenaeus japonicus, (15.4 cm, 25.2 g on average) were used in this study. In case of cooking at 100 °C for 1 min after 24 h of storage at 0 °C, 5 °C, and 20 °C, the red color development rate of prawns stored at 5 °C and 20 °C was significantly lower than that of prawns cooked just after killing. In case of cooking at 100 °C, 80 °C, and 60 °C after storage for 24 h at 0 °C, there was no color development at 60 °C and significantly less color development at 80 °C compared to cooking just after killing. Preparation using 1% sodium carbonate before cooking at 80 °C could compensate for the lack of red color development. Short exposure of live kuruma prawns to low-oxygen conditions had no influence on the color development, but putting the prawns in freshwater for 3 h significantly reduced the red color development rate. In conclusion, the storage time has little influence on the red color development when the cooking temperature is sufficiently high. However, in case a large amount of prawns is cooked followed by lowering the cooking temperature and/or prawns are exposed to serious stresses before cooking, an alkaline preparation could compensate for the lack of red color development.
Improving the red color development could increase the value of boiled prawns. Higher boiling temperature, lower storage temperature, shorter storage period, and less stress on live prawns resulted in better red color development on the surface of kuruma prawns.